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Isolated elections could be very challenging, INEC Chair tells ICCES

Isolated elections could be very challenging, INEC Chair tells ICCES

Isolated elections could be very challenging, INEC Chair tells ICCES

Abuja- Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday said that the conduct of isolated elections such as bye-elections and re-run elections in the country could be very challenging, hence the need to pay attention to the potentials for disruptive behaviour.

Yakubu disclosed this in his opening remakes at a meeting with the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) held in Abuja at the INEC Conference Room.

Shadanpamaeporters reports that members of ICCES include the National Security Adviser and Co-Chair of ICCESS, the Inspector General of Police, the Representatives of the Service Chiefs, Heads of Various Intelligence, Security and Law Enforcement Agencies among others.

“From experience, the conduct of isolated elections such as bye-elections and re-run elections can be very challenging. We must pay attention to the potentials for disruptive behaviour by some candidates and their supporters.

“A re-run election conducted in one Polling Unit or a handful of Polling Units can be severely disrupted by acts of thuggery knowing full well that these few locations will determine the outcome of the election.

“Arising from the reports we received from the States, concerns have been raised about the impact of the prevailing insecurity in some States on the conduct of the elections, made worse by incendiary statements by some political actors.

“We will present such concerns and reports at this meeting for appropriate security response,” Yakubu said

He stressed that the meeting would focus attention on yet another round of elections holding on Feb. 3 in some states of the federation.

According to him, there are two categories of elections comprising-the bye-elections arising from the death or resignation of members of the National and State legislative houses affecting two Senatorial Districts, four Federal and three State Assembly Constituencies.

He said that the second category was the re-run elections by order of Election Petition Appeal Tribunals.

“In my remarks at the Commission’s extraordinary meeting with leaders of political parties last month, I reported that the elections affect 35 National and State Constituencies.

“Since then, four additional orders of the Court of appeal have been served on the Commission in respect of Yabo/Shagari Federal Constituency of Sokoto State, Madara/Chinade State Constituency of Bauchi State as well as Kudan and Kauru/Chawai State Constituencies of Kaduna State.

“This brings the total number of affected constituencies to 39 which translates to 2.6% of the 1,491 Constituencies for which elections were conducted nationwide in the 2023 General Election.

“The nine bye-elections are fresh elections covering the entire constituencies. However, with the exception of three Constituencies (Plateau North Senatorial District and Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency in Plateau State and Kachia/Kagarko Federal Constituency in Kaduna State), the re-run elections are to be held in a few Polling Units.

“In some cases, only one Polling Unit is affected in an entire Federal or State Constituency,” the INEC boss said.

According to him, the task as members of ICCES is to ensure security for the elections.

He said that for this reason, the Commission had already provided to the Nigeria Police Force, as the lead agency in election security, the full information of the locations where the elections will be held broken down by States, Local Government Areas, Registration Areas/Wards and Polling Units.

“We have similarly provided the number of registered voters and Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) collected in each Polling Unit. The same information will be shared at this meeting with other members of ICCES.

” The updated information will be also be uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms for public information immediately after this meeting.

“As you are all aware, election is a multi-stakeholder responsibility. INEC has a role to play. So too are other stakeholders.

” As security agencies, it is your responsibility to secure the environment to enable us deploy personnel and materials, the protection of observers, the media as well as the polling and collation agents representing the political parties and candidates.

“Without a secure and peaceful environment, the conduct of credible elections is imperilled, ” he said.

According to Yakubu, what many people do not realise is that there is no election season in Nigeria any longer as elections are held throughout the year between one general election and another.

He said that this adds to the enormous pressure on both INEC and the security agencies.

“For instance, in addition to the bye-elections and re-run elections holding next week, the Commission has also released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the two off-cycle Governorship elections in Edo State scheduled for 21st September 2024 and Ondo State holding on 16th November 2024.

“As required by the Electoral Act 2022, party primaries and nomination of candidates shall be done not later than 180 days before the date fixed for the elections. Accordingly, party primaries for Edo State will commence next week and end three weeks later (i.e. 1st- 24th February 2024).

“For Ondo State, primaries will be held between 6th and 27th April 2024. Our collective experience as election managers and security agencies shows that party primaries can sometimes be more acrimonious than general elections.
“Therefore, as we prepare for the bye-elections and re-run elections, we should equally be prepared for the two major elections later in this year in Edo and Ondo States,” he reiterated. (shadanpamaeporters).

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